- Biotechnology is the controlled use of biological agents such as microorganism or cellular components for beneficial use.
- It is comparatively a new discipline of science in which the latest technology has been applied to biological organisms for human welfare.
- The recent progress in biotechnology is due to understanding and application of principles of molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, genetic engineering, genetics, immunology for deriving benefits at the technological level.
- It can also be defined as the application of biological organisms, systems or processes to manufacturing and serving industries.
I) Aims of biotechnology
- To develop industrial processes for the production of antibiotics, enzymes, hormones, insulin, vitamins at low cost.
- To develop gene surgery and gene therapy to cure genetic diseases.
- To create improved varieties of plants and animals through genetic engineering and breeding.
- To develop techniques for tissue culture, cell culture and organ transplantation.
- To develop tools and techniques for diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
- To develop technique for food processing and food preservation.
- To develop the use of bio-energy.
- To develop techniques for conversion of waste materials into useful substances.
- To develop recombinant microorganisms through molecular biology or genetic engineering for specific uses in agriculture and industries.
- To develop biological processes of waste treatment to reduce the impact of pollution.
- To develop biological process of plant disease control, improvement of crop and soil fertility.
II) Applications of biotechnology
- Biotechnology has brought total evolution, advancement and sophistication in various fields.
- There are various areas where biotechnology is applied for human welfare.
- Following are the important application of bio-technology.
A) Biotechnology in agriculture:
i) Production of disease resistant varieties of plants
- Recombinant DNA technology is used in producing disease resistant and pests resistant varieties of plants.
- It is one of the most useful applications of tissue culture in crop improvement.
- The somaclonal variations in both late and early blight resistance in potato induce tolerance to pests, diseases or stresses or are helpful to overcome male sterility.
ii) Somatic hybridization
- Fusion of somatic cell is called somatic hybridization.
- Protoplast culture and fusion is one of the most significant development in the field of plant tissue culture.
- This technique has made somatic cell fusion between sexually incompatible species possible.
- It is a rapid propagation of plants by cloning.
- Clone is a plant population derived from a single individual by asexual reproduction.
- Rapid asexual or vegetative propagation of plants in vitro, popularly called micropropagation or clonal propagation.
- By applying cell tissue or organ culture in a laboratory, a large number of plants can be propagated easily in short period of time.
iv) Production of virus free plants
- In crop and ornamental plants, virus free plants can be produced through tissue culture at a commercial level.
- This can be done by regenerating plants from cultured tissues derived from virus free plants, meristem culture and callus which is usually pathogen free like meristems.
v) Production of haploid plants
- Haploids with desired mutations can be selected and fertile diploid with desirable feature can be obtained in a single generation.
- Breeding cycle is shorten and also more types of gene recombinations are recovered which provide more valuable materials for plant improvement.
vi) Production of genetically variable plants
- Cells in culture offer an excellent system for inducing variation and regenerating pure mutant types.
- Somaclonal variation has been extensively exploited for the improvement of asexually propagated crops like potato, sugarcane, etc.
vii) Tissue culture can be used to minimize the growing space in commercial nurseries for the maintenance of stock plants.
viii) Biological control of disease and pests.
B) Biotechnology in medicine:
- It has a wide range of applications in medicine.
- It is widely used in animal and human health care.
- It is applied in prevention, diagnosis and cure of diseases.
- Its direct and more importance are as follows.
i) Antibody production
- For prevention measures several antibodies have been chemically and biologically synthesized by hybridoma technology.
- These antibodies defend the body against microorganisms.
ii) Production of vaccines
- Vaccine is a liquid chemical substance which is used to stimulate an immune response in the body to resist disease.
- Vaccines are administered orally or by injection.
- Various types of vaccines against rabies, small pox, polio, etc has been produced using biotechnology.
iii) Production of interferons
- Interferon is an antiviral agent used as a drug against viruses.
- Recombinant DNA technology is used to develop interferon against viral diseases.
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iv) Gene therapy
- This is the treatment of diseases by the transfer and expression of gene in patient’s cells in order to restore normal cellular functions.
v) Production of antibiotics
vi) Pharmaceutical drugs
vii) Production of growth hormones.
C) Fermentation technology:
- fermentation is the core of biotechnology.
- a variety of important organic compounds are produced industrially by fermentation properties of microbes.
- these include alcohols, organic acids, enzymes, antibiotics, vitamins, hormones, proteins, etc.
- these substances are produced by the application of organisms like yeast, Aspergillus niger, Lactobacillus spp., Candida utilis, etc.
D) Biotechnology and environment:
- Microorganisms are used to reduce environmental pollution through a variety of processes as:
i) Recovery of metals from polluted water.
ii) Elimination of sulphur from metal ores and coal-fired power.
iii) Different types of bacteria, fungi and algae are used in sewage disposal.
iv) Fermentation technology is also used in the manufacture of idli, dosa, bread, etc.
E) Biotechnology in energy production:
- Fermentation of cow dung, farm refuse, garbage, etc by methane bacteria in anaerobic condition produces bio-gas or gobar gas.
- Organic remains of bio-gas can be used as manure.
Aims and application of Biotechnology